East Sussex businesses have paid out over £ 20,000 after being prosecuted by the Environment Agency this month for breaching consents to discharge treated sewage effluent.

Orchard Inns (UK) Ltd were fined £ 1500 plus £ 3090 costs on Wednesday 23 January at Eastbourne Magistrates Court for two breaches of discharge consent. On 14 April 2007 a member of the public reported hundreds of dead fish in the Wallers Haven near the Star Inn, Pevensey. Environment Agency staff attended the site and saw a sewage smelling effluent escaping from the treatment works. Orchards Inn Ltd. did not act on advice to block the outfall and get the effluent tankered away until five days later.

In Haywards Heath Magistrates Court on Friday 11 January, Wellshurst Golf and Country Club Ltd. were fined £ 15000 plus £ 703 costs for a breach of consent to discharge sewage effluent into controlled waters, on three separate occasions.

In response to a report from a member of the public, an Environment Agency officer visited the site on 23 June 2006. The officer found a highly discoloured discharge smelling strongly of ammonia and sewage fungus growing on the stream bankside. Formal samples were taken and the operator was notified of the problem. Following this, an engineer attended the site and confirmed that part of the sewage treatment plant was broken. Unfortunately the plant was not repaired promptly and the club continued to release poor quality discharge. The failing plant was replaced by the club in October 2006.

Amie Plummer, Environment Officer said:

”It is not acceptable to breach consent conditions. A consent to discharge is a legal duty of care on a premises to ensure that the water environment will not be harmed. We hope these prosecutions send a clear message to other companies in East Sussex to take their environmental responsibilities seriously. “